Africa Direct
Africa Direct

Bamun Bark Mask Cameroon Grasslands

AvailabilityIn stock
Special Price $277.00 Regular Price $477.00
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Brand Unbranded
Type of Object Mask
Country of Origin Cameroon
People Bamileke or Bamun
Materials Bark, cloth, pigment
Approximate Age Second half 20th century
Height (in) 20
Width (in) 6.75
Depth (in) 3.75
Overall Condition Good to fair . Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.
Damage/Repair Arrested bug damage.

Identified with the Bamileke, this mask shares stylistic traits with the Bamum or even with the Tikar and other Western Grasslands peoples, reflecting the complex transfer of style through trade and the migration of artists. The mask is made of wood covered with cotton cloth on the surface. The face is beautified with beads of multiple colors. This mask is a strong well-carved-example of the art of Cameroon and carries symbolic meaning as well as aesthetic reflection of the artistically sophisticated Bamileke people. It was worn on the top of head. This is a well preserved mask with most of its beadwork intact,

Such a headpiece was worn on the head by retainers at the courts of various Grasslands kingdoms in Cameroon. Thay appeared at ceremonies associated with planting and harvesting as well as other events celebrating the rulers or simply as entertainment for the king and his court.

The art of the grasslands area of Cameroon is a royal art, devoted to the veneration of ancestors and the enrichment of the Fon, or main chief. The Cameroon Grasslands is a large and extremely diverse cultural area, inhabited by a large number of related peoples. The main groups are the Bamilike, Bamum, and Bamenda Tikar. The Bamileke are one of the artistically elite groups of the Cameroon Grasslands, along with the Bamun and the Bamenda Tikar. These groups produce an array of beautiful and unique objects, which are used almost exclusively by the royal courts of the regional Fon. There are also numerous, still-smaller groups, which are loosely affiliated with one another and share many historical and political similarities. All of these groups originally came from an area to the north, scattering in complex patterns during the last several centuries. Fulani traders moving steadily southwards into Cameroon during the 17th century forced the southern movement of most of the current residents. The dense forests, though now disappearing, and the scattered nature of the many tiny villages, have made the study of this area a daunting task for ethnologists, and has prevented the development of a "school of thought" concerning their artistic output.